The 79-year history of Silicon Valley’s first tech startup was destroyed in the Santa Rosa fires

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This is an undated photo from the 1940's of William Hewlett, left, and David Packard. They co-founded Silicon Valley electronics company Hewlett-Packard Co. Hewlett died Friday, Jan. 12, 2001. He was 87. (AP Photo/HO/Hewlett Packard)

There’s a garage in Palo Alto called “the Birthplace of Silicon Valley.” In the small cramped shed in 1938, William Hewlett and David Packard started an electronics company backed by just $538 in cash.

At first, it sold audio oscillators to test speakers. Today, the multi-billion dollar HP (formerly Hewlett-Packard Company) is the biggest personal computer manufacturer in the world. It’s widely considered the pioneering startup of Silicon Valley.

On October 29, some of the physical evidence of that history went up in smoke. It was another victim of the wildfire that raged through Northern California’s wine country destroyed 6,800 homes and killed least 23 residents, reports The Press Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa.

The Tubbs fire incinerated more than 100 boxes of Hewlett and Packard’s writings, correspondence, and speeches. The papers were being stored at Keysight Technologies, one of the world’s largest electronics measurement companies, which has links to HP. The archives, valued at $2 million and acquired in 2014, were being stored in two “modular buildings” on the corporate campus, the paper reported.

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